‘Canelo’ Alvarez says he’s been far from his best

The Sporting Tribune's Alan Dawson provides insight on Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez's comments before facing Jermell Charlo.

LOS ANGELES — Hotel security appeared jittery at a four-star hotel in Beverly Hills last week.

It may have been down to an ongoing strike in which the picket for Southern California hotel
workers had extended to the Beverly Hilton’s perimeter in recent weeks.

But the final leg of a two-city press tour for a world championship boxing event in Las Vegas
next month probably didn’t help things, either.

Despite efforts to keep the location for the event private, Canelo’s super fans lined up
at gates outside the building just to get a look at one of Mexico’s most famous athletes.

“Ca-ne-lo! Ca-ne-lo! Ca-ne-lo!” They’d scream, as 33-year-old boxer Saul Alvarez fulfilled media
obligations on the lawn, after facing-off with Jermell Charlo, whom he fights September 30 at the
T-Mobile Arena.

Hotel guests took photos of Canelo from the vantage points of their rooms on the fifth, sixth, and
seventh floors.

From the fans, to guests, and even the press, it all showed one clear thing — despite a run of
substandard performances, Canelo remains one of the faces of combat sports.

“We’ll see if it’s true that I’ve lost a step,” he told The Sporting Tribune and other reporters. “I
understand what the people said and I agree.”

He was second-best against Dmitry Bivol last summer, went 12 rounds for a third time with
Gennadiy Golovkin in the fall, before this year going the distance with John Ryder — the type of
opponent whose face he’d probably have broken had they fought 2020 to 2021.

“I didn’t look my best in my last two fights, but I know why and I’m ready for this fight … we’re
going to see something different [against Charlo].”

Canelo puts all his world titles at stake against Charlo

In 2023, Alvarez is more than a boxer. He’s a business.

The fighter is a magnet for blue chip sponsors as he has Hall of Fame achievements in his
sport, and possesses an ambassadorial aura.

He’s had a long relationship with drinks brand Hennessy and, last year, launched a cocktail
range of canned tequila called TMC.

Canelo made an appearance at the Superbowl this year when he starred alongside Serena
Williams in a commercial for the beer brand Michelob Ultra.

He has a commercial deal with Dolce & Gabbana, and, as he told me earlier this year, he’s
expanding his chain of convenience stores in Guadalajara — ‘Upper by Canelo Energy.’

It’s a brand he wants people to see throughout Mexico and, one day, Southern California.

His former promoter Eddie Hearn, the group chairman of Matchroom, once told me Canelo has
“got more money than God” as he’s a multi-millionaire through multiple avenues — in business,
real estate, and, obviously, boxing.

It would be a stretch to claim the pugilistic part of Canelo’s empire is suffering. But as he himself acknowledged a dip in his recent form, is there an argument that his business
dealings are a distraction to the thing that made him famous in the first place?

“I’m happy,” Canelo told The Sporting Tribune backstage at the Beverly Hilton hotel. “But I know I
wasn’t at 100 percent in those fights.”

When pressed as to why he wasn’t at his best, he told us: “Because of my hand.”

Alvarez was referencing a hand injury he is alleged to have taken into a number of his recent
fights, and had surgery in a bid to fix.

“I can now train fully with [boxing coach] Eddy [Reynoso], hit the pads, heavy bags, and

Reynoso seemingly agreed, having told The Sporting Tribune and other reporters earlier in the day, that: “We’re here, and ready to keep moving forward.”

The fight next month is the first in Canelo’s new, three-fight deal with American company
Premier Boxing Champions.

Jermell is obviously the first opponent on that deal. According to one of The Sporting Tribune’s sources,
who has knowledge of the PBC’s ‘tentative’ strategy, his older brother Jermall could well be the
second opponent.

If all goes well, and in boxing it rarely does, David Benavidez would be the third.

Las Vegas is the target city for all three Canelo fights, the source said.

The first match is a big one as it is a rare instance of an undisputed champion in one weight
class, taking on the undisputed champion of another.

Fans clamor for the best fighting the best, and this is the definition of that as two pound-for-
pound caliber boxers wage war.

“It’s not easy to make a fight between two undisputed champions like we have done,” Reynoso

It will be even harder if Canelo’s issues in recent fights extend beyond a hand injury because
Charlo is the type of opponent who can exploit an unfocused opponent who brings one too
many distractions into the ring with him.

Both Canelo and Reynoso appear confident, though, rather than jittery like the hotel security.

“Styles make fights and I believe Canelo and Charlo’s styles clash perfectly to make this a great
fight on September 30,” Reynoso said.

Canelo, meanwhile, finished: “I look like I’m an easy opponent but when fighters step into the
ring with me, it’s completely different.

“It’s not the same watching me from outside the ring as it’s actually being inside the ring with
me. I’m a different guy.”